Monday, June 23, 2014

Sensory Processing Disorder

I've been doing some research into Sensory Processing Disorder recently and the Highly Sensitive Person. 

If you have strong reactions to people, smells, sounds and environment and get easily overwhelmed, you could be a HSP. 

The following is an excerpt from the brilliant book Making Sense of Your High Sensitivity by Cliff Harwin has given me a lot of food for thought, namely because I tick most of the boxes. It's an eye-opener which is helping me to learn more about my reactions to life. 

Issues of the HSP:

Need for solitude. Do you have the need to be alone for extended periods of time every day? HSPs sometimes need a lot of solitude or down time to decompress from the over-stimulation of their environment. This is important to know about yourself. You can use this trait to your advantage by purposely taking the time you need to settle down. This will help you be mentally and physically healthier.

Easily hurt feelings. Have you been accused of being too “touchy?” Easily hurt feelings   often come from our need to consider any feedback carefully and our sensitive feelings may cause us to react more emotionally. It is natural for HSPs to pause to observe and reflect before acting. Why not use this natural instinct to your advantage?

Long lasting setbacks. Do you think that your setbacks and hurt feelings last longer than normal? HSPs may react more emotionally to these situations, but don’t necessarily have longer lasting setbacks. Your reaction depends on how you view them. You may be emotionally overreacting by your sensitivity mixed with your own personal history.     

Shyness. Shyness is not an inherited HSP trait. Sensitivity is. Your experiences in childhood might have caused you to have shy tendencies. Unfortunately, shyness has a negative connotation. According to Dr. Aron, social anxiety or shyness is almost always due to overarousal, which makes you act, speak, or appear to be socially awkward. Overarousal is not necessarily fear but can be caused by outside stimuli such as loud noises, etc. Shyness tendencies might not have anything to do with being around people. Acknowledge that you might be nervous in certain situations and make allowances for it by leaving it or making the best out of it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t function in social situations.

Conscientiousness. Do you always make an extraordinary effort to do the best you can in every task that you undertake? Does this hinder you from getting things done? Conscientiousness is a HSP characteristic strength when it’s not taken to the extreme.

Sensitivity to environment. Do you feel uncomfortable in environments such as hospitals where there is an overabundance of activity? Are you easily overwhelmed in environments that produce bright lights, strong odors and scents? Do you startle easy by loud or sudden sounds? Are you affected by touching abrasive surfaces or material? Does clutter make you abnormally nervous? HSPs are often overly stimulated by these situations. Your awareness of this fact will cause less stress in your life by making adjustments for it.

Intuitive sense about people and their moods and problems. It can also be an advantage because those that are sensitive to the needs of others are often sought after as friends.

Sensitivity to pain. Do you have an unusually low tolerance for pain? Has anyone told you that you’re too pain sensitive? HSPs can be very sensitive to pain.

Sensitivity to temperature. Are you unusually affected by temperature extremes?

Sensitivity to medications. Do you have a high sensitivity to medications?
Caffeine sensitivity. Does anything that contains caffeine make you jumpy or nervous? HSPs can be particularly sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

Aversion to violence. Do you purposely avoid anything that depicts violence? HSPs go out of their way to avoid violent movies, television shows, etc.

A dislike of crowds or public places. HSPs can become agitated when surrounded by a lot of people and/or activity. If this is an issue for you, make allowances for these situations by having an exit strategy when you are overstimulated.

Confrontation issues. Do you avoid confrontation? Do you consciously avoid overwhelming or troublesome situations. This is not necessarily a HSP trait. You may be overreacting to situations due to your sensitivity and personal history. 
You may want to consider picking your “battles” more carefully. Sometimes it might be better to let something go rather than becoming too overwhelmed with things that don’t really matter.

Irritated when pressured. Are you thrown off balance when other people want you to do too many things at once? HSPs can sometimes be overwhelmed when they have many things to do in a short period of time. The ability to remain calm has a lot to do with your childhood experiences, rather than your HSP trait. Take a step back and regroup when you become overwhelmed.

Being watched makes you nervous. Do you get easily flustered when being watched by others? Is public speaking a challenge for you? HSPs may become unusually nervous when they are observed by others or while being watched when carrying out a task. These challenges can be managed by being prepared, which in turn, provides the confidence to excel in these situations.

Heightened or intense reactions when hungry. Do you have feelings of irritability, nervousness, or lack of concentration when you haven’t eaten for an extended period of time? Hunger may create a strong reaction that disrupts a HSPs concentration or mood. This is a HSP strength because you can replenish your body before it becomes too depleted.

Feeling distressed when making changes. Do you feel this way? This is a challenge for HSPs and non-HSPs alike. A HSPs deep thinking capabilities can make this process easier by being aware and pondering different possibilities and acting on them. This will cause less stress and anxiety.

Intuitiveness toward self. The potential issue here is if you have this gift and are not using it to your advantage. Do you have the capacity for self- reflection and intuitive learning? Do you have the ability to know something, even if you’re not sure how you learned it? Are you drawn to holistic activities and alternative ways of doing things? HSPs are deep thinkers who have rich, complex inner lives.

Turning “red” or blushing. Do you often blush or feel flushed when you’re overstimulated or eat hot food? I often experience this sensation suddenly and without notice. It is not a proven HSP trait, but I know this is true for me. Be aware that overarousal may cause this reaction in you. Accept it and don’t let it become a hindrance in your life.

Depression. Have you had “bouts” of depression in your life? If so, overstimulating situations over an extended period of time could be a contributing factor. HSPs aren’t prone to depression more than anyone else. Use a HSP trait of needing and taking the time to de-compress to help ward off depression.

Familiarity. Are you more comfortable with repetition and routine? This is definitely true for me. HSPs may function better in scripted settings, both vocationally and socially. If this is true for you, recognize this and make a conscious effort to be in situations where you will thrive.

Acutely aware of consequences. Do you think of the consequences of your actions? This is a HSP strength because of our deep thinking capabilities. You will make better decisions and stay out of trouble!

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